Poland to seek independence from Gazprom pipeline by 2022

by Anastazja Kolodziej

Piotr Naimski, sekretarz stanu w Kancelarii Prezesa Rady Ministrów, Pełnomocnik Rządu ds. Strategicznej Infrastruktury Energetycznej, powiedział, że Polska nie przedłuży długoterminowego kontraktu z Gazpromem kiedy termin obowiązującego obecnie kontraktu upłynie w 2022. Jest to jedna z decyzji polskiego rządu aby uniezależnić Polskę od dostaw rosyjskiego gazu. Inne to konstrukcja rurociągu Baltic Pipe, który doprowadzi norweski gaz do Polski przez Danię i Bałtyk, oraz podpisanie umowy na zakup dwóch milionów ton ciekłego gazu ziemnego (LNG, ang. liquefied natural gas) ze Stanów Zjednoczonych. Te umowy są zgodne z wytycznymi Unii Europejskiej, która wspiera konkurencję i dywersyfikację źródeł importu gazu. Zapewnią one zróżnicowanie źródeł dostaw gazu do Polski dzięki czemu rosyjski gaz, będzie mniej efektywnym środkiem nacisku Kremla na Warszawę. Pomoc Polsce w zmniejszeniu uzależnienia od dostaw rosyjskiego gazu powinna pozostać jednym z priorytetów dla Stanów Zjednoczonych. Polska, podnosząc swoją rangę gospodarczą w Europie i stając się głównym miejscem przesyłu gazu do państw Europy Środkowej i Wschodniej, będzie jeszcze silniejszym i bardziej strategicznym partnerem dla Stanów Zjednoczonych w tym regionie.  

 

How can Poland become less dependent upon Russian gas?

Poland will not renew its long-term contract with Russian gas company Gazprom when it expires in 2022, said Piotr Naimski, the Polish government’s advisor on energy infrastructure.

This decision is one in a series of actions made by the Polish government to seek independence from Russian gas. Poland, the seventh-largest gas consumer in the European Union (EU), currently imports over half of its gas from Gazprom, according to Forbes.

Poland is a vocal opponent of the Nord Stream 2 project. Nord Stream 2, which will cost EUR 9.5 billion (USD 10.7 billion), will establish an export gas pipeline that will run from Russia to Germany and throughout Europe. The pipeline would transport nearly all Russian gas exports to the EU along one route, which would render certain existing pipelines out of service.

The Nord Stream 2 plan has been hotly debated, as many European countries, including Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic States, disapprove of the power that the pipeline would provide to Germany and the Kremlin. Nations such as Ukraine also oppose the pipeline as it would hurt the Ukrainian economy. As a result of their disapproval, Poland has taken several measures to establish alternative gas pipelines or importation deals.

The main alternative plan is the Baltic Pipe project, which would run Norwegian natural gas from Denmark to Poland. The plan, which was finalized in Nov. 2018, would spread the market for Norwegian gas to Poland and other Central and Eastern European nations, increase Poland’s security of supply, and boost the Danish economy. It would also limit the Kremlin’s influence in those nations.

The project is being developed by Energinet, the Danish transmission system operator for gas and electricity, together with GAZ-SYSTEM, the Polish gas transmission system operator. According to the Baltic Pipe website, Energinet will establish the components of the plan within Danish territory, while GAZ-SYSTEM will construct the pipeline between the two nations.

The Baltic Pipe project will be partially funded by the EU, which will provide EUR 215 million (USD 243.7 million) to subsidize a gas link between Denmark and Poland. The pipeline infrastructure is planned to be fully operational by Oct. 2022, when Poland’s contract with Gazprom will expire.

In another measure to reduce Poland’s dependence on Russian gas, the Polish gas company Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA (PGNiG; Polish Mining, Oil and Gas) signed a deal in Oct. 2018 to purchase liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States. Through the contract, PGNiG intends to import up to 2 million tons of LNG over 20 years, PGNiG’s CEO Piotr Woźniak said.

In addition to limiting Russian influence, the Baltic Pipe and LNG deal will fall in line with the EU policy to increase and diversify competition and to integrate gas markets, according to the Central European Financial Observer.

It should remain within the interests of the United States to assist with lowering Polish dependence upon Russian gas. As Poland becomes a stronger gas hub within Central Europe, boosting its economy and its role within the European economy, it becomes a more powerful ally and key partner for the United States.

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